Should tourists pay a “green fee” to protect Hawaii’s environment?

Establishing a “visitor green fee” to protect our environment is one way Hawaii government could help take care of the islands’ precious resources, according to a new blog from the University of Hawaii Economic Research Organization (UHERO).

James mak, the author of the blog, UHERO researcher and professor emeritus of economics, said the idea of ​​a green fee for visitors – a levy to raise money from tourists to finance conservation and environmental management programs – was simmering in Hawaii for a while as the state searches for ways to meet its unfunded environmental liability. Citing a 2019 report (PDF) by Conservation International, Mak noted that the report suggests two ways to close this funding gap: 1) collect new fees from visitors; or 2) collect a surcharge on existing transitional accommodation (TAT) and car rental taxes or reallocate some of the money already collected for environmental purposes.

According to the blog, the state spends less than 1% of its annual operating budget on natural resource management. Conservation International estimates that current annual funding is about $ 360 million below what is needed.

Other green fees for visitors around the world

Fourteen destinations around the world issue a green fee to visitors, according to Conservation International. He said the Pacific island nation of Palau has “one of the most effective green fee programs in the world, a USD visitor fees included in airline tickets. Likewise, the Galapagos Islands of Ecuador also impose a tax of $ 100 USD entry fee at the port of arrival with revenues directly used to finance “conservation, protection and management”. Conservation International noted that visitor data shows that the implementation of the fee did not impact visitor arrival rates.

Proof ETSthe plan of

The visitor green fee can be a solution for Hawaii Tourist Office (ETS) as a new destination management action plan (PDF) for Oahu calls for the establishment of a “regenerative tourism fee” which “directly supports regeneration programs Hawaii, protect natural resources and settle unfunded conservation liabilities.

Environmental user fees

Conservation International’s report does not include an environmental charge for the use of public or state-provided facilities or services. One example is the entrance fee to the Hanauma Bay Nature Reserve. Environmental user charges are effective and efficient because 1) they capture the cost of environmental services and the damages in the prices of goods and services to more accurately reflect their true costs to society; 2) at higher prices, they encourage consumers and producers to become more environmentally friendly; and 3) they generate income.

Next steps

Mak noted that Hawaii must spend more money on environmental stewardship and encourage residents and visitors to take care of island resources, which should begin with developing a consistent user fee policy on access from all to Hawaiithe natural resources of.

UHERO is housed in EUH Mānoa College of Social Sciences. Read the full blog post at UHEROthe website of.

This work is an example of EUH Mānoa’s goal of creating a sustainable and resilient campus environment: within the global movement for sustainability and climate resilience (PDF) and Research Excellence: Advancing the Business of Research and Creative Work (PDF), two of the four objectives identified in the 2015-25 Strategic Plan (PDF), updated in December 2020.

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